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Today's Music

Today's Music
November 19, 2008, 09:52:06 AM
Thanks to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, today's listening is:

Cesar Franck - Symphony in D Minor

I find this piece interesting because it combines the playfulness of the Scandinavians, the somber but powerful sense of the Faustian sublime of the Germans, and the itinerant wanderlust and emotion of the Southern Europeans. It starts pensively, then as if re-tracing its steps to find an alternate path, discovers its passion and thunders its way straight into a contemplative zone. It reminds me of a fusion of Atheist and early Morbid Angel, with the sense of grandeur of Emperor and the delicate but forceful pacing of Infester.

For more music like this, read:

Classical Music for Metal Fans

After giving this performance a listen, the first thing that strikes me is how rude the crowd was.

Not only is the mood of the piece broken by constant sniffling and coughing, but some idiot even had his cell phone go off early in the second movement!

As for the piece itself, I'd say it was merely OK.

The syncopated motive from the first movement was a highlight (especially when subtle variations of it were brought back in later movements), as was the bouncing rhythm that carried the second movement.

Other than that, though, I can't think of a whole lot that stuck with me.

Debussy and Ravel him him licked, I think, when it comes to the French-Romantics of the late 19th century.

Today's Music: Johannes Brahms - Symphony No. 2
December 04, 2008, 03:29:51 PM
Thanks to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, today's listening is:

Johannes Brahms - Symphony No. 2

One of the more sensitive pieces that overwhelms you with a sense of incomparable curves emerging from rigid constructions, like a building within a building where the outside is a majestic fortress and the inside, a tangle of waterslides and rollercoasters. Venture further into yourself and find yourself drawn through a similarity of paired beauties and abrupt pragma appearing across the boundaries of time and motif, storming one minute and then like a bird gliding over a mountain range into a plateau estuary, a contemplative rest without quiet. For fans of Varathron, Immortal, Burzum and Atheist.

For more music like this, read:

Classical Music for Metal Fans

great piece. everything becmes so intenselyfocused(re-centered?) by the last minute or so, and once it's over, you've disappeared as an individual and have been fully immersed in the sense of majesty exuded by the last few refrains


It's threads like these that make this forum great. I remembered this symphony to be the most boring of Brahms's. Turns out it has a lot more fire than I thought. I love the finale.

Thanks to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, today's listening is:

Camille Saint-Saens - Third/Organ Symphony

If you could combine ambient music and death metal, the result would (ideally) be like this: discursive passages that float on air and grasp from the chaotic visual aspect of life an informational tracing of elements of its beauty, combining them and building tension toward destruction, then resolving it in a martial series of passages that are both foreboding and apocalyptic, and graceful and assertive in a way that makes you want to scream YES to the face of life, grab a sword and create unforeseen beauties beyond the narrow world of individual human emotions and fears. Combining the Southern European joie de vivre with the stentorian rage for Faustian order of the northmen, this piece leaves me drained and yet at moral attention, prepared.

For more music like this, read:

Classical Music for Metal Fans

This piece, and Danse Macabre were instant classics from Saint-Saens, and everyone here who doesn't think much of classical ought to reconsider and give these a couple of good listens.

Happy Birthday, Ludwig van Beethoven
December 16, 2008, 02:41:27 PM
Today, Ludwig van Beethoven would have been 238 years old.



Ludwig van Beethoven was born into the end of an age and the birth of a new one, and striding both, was able to see by parallax motion the clarity for which both strived, but fell short. As a musical genius and not a historian, he was caught between the two in a search for an idealized beauty that he found only in music.

After his birth on December 16, 1770, Beethoven grew up in a musical family. His father, a singer in a local choir, taught him the basics but afterwards Beethoven studied with a series of composers and court musicians: Christian Gottlob Neefe, Joseph Haydn, Johann Baptist Schenk, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger and Antonio Salieri. Publishing his first music at age 12, he had a moderately successful career as a court musician until age 24, when he was able to find patrons in Vienna -- the musical center of the world at that time.

He faced challenges in his early life that left him somewhat isolated. His home life was semi-stable as a youth. His father was an alcoholic; tuberculosis killed his mother when he was 16. He raised his brothers and at one point entailed half of his father's income to provide for them. He kept driving forward, possessed by a vision of his music, and often retreating from a chaotic life into that vision.

Originally from Bonn, Beethoven moved to Vienna in his early 20s and had to adapt to the more cosmopolitan, political urban lifestyle. Known as a masterful pianist, Beethoven was able to find work and was recognized as being of quality, but this never translated into a stable living. Forced to teach students, and frequently derailed by crises in his personal life of a familial nature, he longed for great stability where he could simply write music -- and be alone, a condition he had come to accept and even enjoy.

In his early 30s, however, Beethoven faced another crisis: the gradual but inevitable loss of his hearing. What he first noticed as tinnitus, or a ringing in his ears, burgeoned into a more serious loss of hearing spurred by lesions forming in his inner ears. In a relatively short span of days, Beethoven had to face the instability of his career and a new challenge, incoming deafness. At first he contemplated suicide, but after a long darkness of the soul, composed what he called his "Heiligenstadt Testament," which was a statement of heroic idealism in that he decided to not only stand and fight, but overcome physical and political barriers so that he might realize transcendental beauty through music.

Over the next decade, he slowly decreased and eventually stopped both performing in public and most conversation, trying to shield what was left of his hearing. At the same time, he had to shield himself from disappointments as inspirations from his youth turned prosaic or destructive in his adulthood; in the transitional age between classical and Romantic music, Beethoven aspired to the new ideals of the enlightenment, including democracy and individualism. As time went on, he saw democracy lead to tyranny -- he scratched out the dedication of his third symphony to Napoleon as soon as the latter declared himself Emperor -- and saw through the bad judgments of others the triumph of individualism in a lack of discipline and consequently, error.

For Beethoven, his gift was not the effortless emanations from another world that others, notably Mozart, professed to have. It was a grueling process of organizing his thoughts, a spark of an idea, and then an even more grueling process of revision and refinement. He may have been the best composer of his day, but he may equally have been the hardest working, even as he saw rewards go to lesser talents and other discouragements. Following his realizations in the Heiligenstadt Testament, he ploughed ahead for a shimmering transcendental vision, and ignored daily privations including awkward living circumstances, worries about money, his collapsing failing and his decaying hearing.

Par for the course in the new democratic era, Beethoven was also probably the first rockstar-style composer in that he was recognized by society at large and not only a select group of nobles (for whom music was written on commission) and intellectuals. He also expressed what the crowd wanted to hear, incorporating the humanistic poem "Ode to Joy" of Friedrich Schiller into his final symphonic work; even so, he had an ambivalent relationship to these ideas, finding them too concrete for the turbulence of his soul, although he had nothing better to shove into the maw of need demanding a narrative for the future.

When Beethoven died in 1827, his funeral was that of a public artist adored although not necessarily understood by the masses, forming the basis for the crisis that faced rockstars of the future from Jim Morrison to Kurt Cobain. Over ten thousand people attended what became one of the major events of the year. During his lifetime, however, Beethoven was known as much for his feisty intolerance of the stupidity of others as for any humanistic gestures, which was fitting for someone who had to bulldoze aside confused minds in order to realize his own vision.

Like any born between identifiable cycles of history, Beethoven lived in ambiguity and struggled with it in his music and ideas. While he belonged to the new age, he sung praises of the old especially in the second half of his life, studying past composers and integrating their own styles into his own; he also while acknowledging the humanistic urge of the age, found problems with it and was disappointed by it time and again. What kept him together was his focus on creating transcendental music that could unite the ages around the abstraction of values, and all with the patience to hear his works with an open heart are richer for it.

Ludwig van Beethoven - born December 16, 1770

The Music of Beethoven

Beethoven - Symphony No 2 - Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

This early work brims with a cynical optimism, meaning that in the midst of a storm, one sees the possibility that acting with discipline can lead to survival -- and how beautiful it will be to prevail, to live to see more days where there is similar potential. This music is profoundly humbling in its ingenuity but is also designed for all who can discipline themselves to appreciate it to find great peace of soul in the knowledge of an orderly, loving universe within it. It is the calloused but encouraging hand of a master, telling you to go ahead -- take that risk, take that chance, strive -- because death while always close is not random, nor is the order that makes beauty. Transcendent like Immortal's "Pure Holocaust" x1000.

Something in this universe loves enough to create love, and to leave sweet delight there for those who can discipline themselves enough to see it.

Sex, sweat, money, symbols and tokens are NOT the things they seem to be effects of.

Love, and love for life, alone are immortal.


Whether it's nature, science, God or nothingness that creates such love as 20-year-newlywedism or Ludwig van Beethoven, I will worship it in profound humility of my soul, and act according to a code that exhalts it.

For that God -- or nihilistic nature --  every day is church day. I want to sacralize all life so it contains the beauty that is found in Beethoven, love, warfare and eternity.

Some profane blog


Re: Happy Birthday, Ludwig van Beethoven
December 16, 2008, 03:45:54 PM
Beethoven audiofile thread

I plan to listen to his Grosse Fuge tonight.

Re: Happy Birthday, Ludwig van Beethoven
December 16, 2008, 11:11:42 PM
Today, Ludwig van Beethoven would have been 238 years old.


in all seriousness, cheers to him. he made some of the most beautiful music the world has ever known.


Re: Happy Birthday, Ludwig van Beethoven
December 17, 2008, 08:11:11 AM
Very "metal" performance of the fugue from the Hammerklavier sonata:


Ottorino Respighi - Ancient Airs and Dances (Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne)

A composer both of the modern time, and looking backward, Respighi wrote a number of passionate modern pieces -- and as a lifelong passion, wrote music in the form and mood of older works, but using classical and modernist developments in symphonic form and technique. This collection of lively pieces convey passion and a depth of reverence, in an almost ecclesiastical naturalism, and yet manage to do so with humor and a joy of awareness rare in the modern time.

To purchase this CD, click:

Ottorino Respighi - Ancient Airs and Dances $9.98

For more music like this, read:

Classical Music for Metal Fans

Re: Today's Music
February 01, 2009, 04:45:07 PM
Franz Berwald - Caprice Symphony No 2 (Ulfe Bjorlin, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

Light, playful and yet devastatingly powerful, the work of Franz Berwald spans the insouciant airs of Southern Europe and the stormy Faustian diatribes of German composers. Similar to Franz Schubert and Johannes Brahms in style, the Caprice Symphony No 2 captures themes Berwald used elsewhere but in their most playful and abstract fashion. Often undermentioned for the crime of reducing personality to the voice of the piece itself, Berwald brings us a fusion of all emotions in a panoramic view of the human experience.

Buy it here